I attended a conference once called Shattering Stigma: Mental Illness and the Church. In a session about anxiety, the presenter said one phrase that has stuck with me: “Don’t believe everything you think.” Just because a thought enters your mind doesn’t mean it is true. For me, that is especially the case when Darker Me decides to throw her hat in the ring.
I wrote this poem, a letter to Darker Me, after I’d spent a few days believing her lies about and interpretation of something someone else said. Thankfully, upon closer examination, the lies were exposed. I hope this poem encourages you to examine each thought, especially if it is negative, to determine whether it is true.
Dear Darker Me,
I tumbled like Alice as I followed you
down a rabbit hole
but entered no Wonderland.
I found no Mad Hatter,
though I found I might be mad myself
for listening to you.
You are no White Rabbit.
Like the Cheshire Cat you
point me in the wrong direction.
I lost my way in my own twisted mind.
You are no Queen of Hearts to insist
I cut off my head or stay stuck in it.
Lost for days wandering among
thoughts that made no sense.
You interchanged truth and lies!
Nothing was what it seemed to be
as I followed you into
an Unwonderland of dredged up
hurt feelings and wrongs recorded
on an endless loop.
I must find my way out,
back to the surface where,
Truth is truth
and lies are exposed by the Light.
But everything exposed by the light
becomes visible—and everything
that is illuminated
becomes a light.
I’m afraid I must expose you,
dear Darker Me,
that I might live without
your control over my mood.
I suppose we’ll meet again,
but for today I bid you adieu.
I know this light is not for you.
I choose to awake from
the nightmare you’ve drug me into
and rejoice in the truth,
in the Light.
Christ in Me
I think that most of us in the Church fail to get a real grip on what pastoring is all about. And that is sad and bad. Not only do we stunt our pastor’s growth, but we cripple ourselves, and flunk some important spiritual lessons.
Three things (there are more, believe me)–
1) Our pastors are sinners.
Surprise! They are just like you and me– definitely not superheroes and certainly not always saintly. They will have their moments and struggles. We really need to understand this to fully receive from their giftings. Just knowing this about them, prepares us to receive deeply and sincerely from their ministries. It seems that their own battles work a brokenness and humility within.
2) Our pastors need to be prayed for.
What they do is probably one of the hardest, most challenging work on planet Earth. The good pastors know this. But they still wade courageously into the thick of things. Our real prayers can buttress and stabilize their lives. They substantially encounter the darkness and do warfare for us. Most have a family to pray for, but they also have a Church they must cover too. A local pastor must have active intercessors, or they will certainly stumble and fall.
3) Our pastors must be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
God’s work must be done His way. And He repeatedly insists they be filled with the Spirit. They receive power right from the true source. Again, Jesus, the True Shepherd gives power and wisdom and grace for each singular moment. A good pastor over time and much prayer– develops discernment and an awareness for his flock. He learns to love them as he watches over them.
Much, much more could be written. There are so many facets to ponder. I only want to encourage you to love and honor your pastor. When you do this, it will probably activate the gift, and fresh ministry will become available. Real work will be done, inside of you and inside your pastor.
“Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
Jeremiah 23:4, NLT
My Pastor, David and Karen Taylor, CCC, Homer Alaska
This poem is written in the pantoum form and is based on Psalm 116, which is my favorite Psalm. I find that the repetition of lines in this form lends itself well to Christian poetry of lament and praise. I hope you are blessed by this offering.
Psalm for My Savior
For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death The anguish of death and darkness entangled me I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!” Praise my God, my Savior who came to my rescue
The anguish of death and darkness entangled me My eyes filled with tears, my feet stumbled under me Praise my God, my Savior who came to my rescue Rescued me from my trouble, sorrow, and darkness deep
My eyes filled with tears, my feet stumbled under me The Lord, my God, heard my cry for love and mercy Rescued me from my trouble, sorrow, and darkness deep Now I know His grace and mercy are mine to keep
The Lord, my God, heard my cry for love and mercy He saw the anguished turmoil of my broken soul Now I know His grace and mercy are mine to keep I will forever praise His glorious name, Jesus
He saw the anguished turmoil of my broken soul I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!” I will forever praise His glorious name, Jesus For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death
This poem was written for someone I love who struggles with bipolar disorder. Though I have suffered through depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, I can never truly understand her pain. I want to help but I am at a loss as to what to do. I wanted to share this here so those who suffer from mental illness might know how your suffering breaks the hearts of those who love you but don’t know what to do.
Broken Heart of Love
This searing pain in my heart I wish it would go away I pray for it to leave me But it is love I would be hollow without it
I watch you drowning in a sea of turmoil and fear I reach out my hand, the one connected to my broken heart “It’s okay, the sailing’s fine,” you say
I walk away, thinking perhaps my eyes deceive me and you are not drowning, or else why would you say otherwise? I know you would not lie
But still this pain deep down inside my aching heart reminds me that you are not fine, the sea is not calm
The storm rages but I cannot rescue you You cannot see my hand reaching through the darkness beckoning you to dry land